Learning, business careers, political and industrial activities—none of these things is more than incidental in the national task of woman. Her great task is to prepare the citizen. The citizen is not prepared by a training in practical politics. Something more fundamental is required. The meaning of honor and of the sanctity of one’s word, the understanding of the principles of democracy and of the society in which we live, the love of humanity, and the desire to serve,—these are what make a good citizen. The tools for preparing herself to give this training are in the woman’s hands. It calls for education, and the nation has provided it. It calls for freedom of movement and expression, and she has them. It calls for ability to organize, to discuss problems, to work for whatever changes are essential. She is developing this ability. It may be that it calls for the vote. I do not myself see this, but it is certain that she will have the vote as soon as not a majority, but an approximate half, not of men—but of women—feel the need of it.
What she has partially at least lost sight of is that education, freedom, organization, agitation, the suffrage, are but tools to an end. What she now needs is to formulate that end so nobly and clearly that the most ignorant woman may understand it. The failure to do this is leading her deeper and deeper into fruitless unrest. It is also dulling her sense of the necessity of keeping her business abreast with the times. At one particular and vital point this shows painfully, and that is her slowness in socializing her home.
THE SOCIALIZATION OF THE HOME
It is only by much junketing about that one comes to the full realization of what men and women in the main are doing in this country. One learns as he passes from town to town, through cities and across plains, that the general reason for industry everywhere is to get the means to build and support a home. Row upon row, street upon street, they run in every village you traverse. They dot the hills and valleys, they break up the mountain side.
Every night they draw to their shelter millions of men who have toiled since morning to earn the money to build and keep them running. All day they shelter millions of women who toil from dawn to dark to put meaning into them. To shelter two people and the children that come to them, to provide them a place in which to eat and sleep, is that the only function of these homes? If that were all, few homes would be built. When that becomes all, the home is no more! To furnish a body for a soul, that is the physical function of the home.